Confession: I'm suffering from extreme PFSD (Posting about Flash Stress Disorder). All this "will it" "won't it" "please don't let it" blog-pong has me cowering beneath my laptop. But I believe in facing my fears, real and absurd, so let's see what Ars Technica has to report:
Adobe has announced a new initiative called Open Screen, which aims to make the company's Flash multimedia technology ubiquitous on mobile and embedded devices. Adobe plans to eliminate the licensing fees required to distribute its own Flash player and AIR runtime implementations on mobile devices and will also remove licensing restrictions on the specifications for the FLV and SWF formats so that developers can create fully-compatible independent Flash player implementations.
FLV is big. Previously, 3rd parties had fairly open access to the rendered SWF format, but not the source FLV (in Flash, you build in FLV and export "movies" in SWF). Now, while Adobe won't be opening up the source to their own Flash kit, they will be removing restrictions against competitive (video player, plugin, etc.) implementations. In other words, Adobe isn't giving away the keys to the Flash kingdom, but they're letting developers build a little village just outside the gates.
"Open as in Microsoft" more than "open as in GNU/Linux" to be sure, but this does take steps to remove one of the greatest criticism levied against Flash on the web: proprietary technology lock-in. (Which is unlike HTML, CSS, and AJaX -- open, standards based technologies, that no one company could suddenly demand huge payments for, roll-in unwanted "features" like DRM, or simply choose to shut down one day, leaving developers stranded).
This is no doubt Adobe's motivation for their increasing openness. They want to drive even more developer adoption towards their Flex and Air platforms, stave off competition from Microsoft's Silverlight technology (which, ironically, has been trying to compete with Flash by offering up unprecedented openness -- from Microsoft!), and keep pace with HTML5's
video tag and CSS-based animation.
But what does this all mean for Flash on the iPhone?
A more open, accessible license may let Apple build their own implementation, one they're more comfortable with, and one that fills that missing middle slot between Flash Lite and Flash (desktop) that Steve Jobs feigned interest in.
Or it may just let Adobe or some 3rd party unleash another Flashenstein Monster a la Sony Ericsson.
Personally, I'll be stockpiling torches and pitchforks (soon as I can stop cowering, that is). What do you think?